13 November 2012 What Does It Take to Keep The Weight Off?

Weight maintenance is not easy and many of us feel that it is a harder task than losing weight. But there are strategies for keeping the weight off and it is helpful to know what has worked for others. Think of these strategies as tools in a well-stocked toolkit for successful weight control.

This post is a brief review of the important findings of the National Weight Control Registry – information was obtained from their website as well as from an article coauthored by one of the registry researchers in 2009. The majority of the 10,000+ participants are white (95%) and female (80%) – so the registry is in great need of a more diverse participation. To enroll, participants must be at least 18 years old, have lost at least 30 lbs, and have kept off the weight for one year or longer. Please consider enrolling and help expand the dataset! Here is the link to enroll: http://www.nwcronline.com/join.aspx.

Eating Habits

  • Lower calories intake.
    Average daily intake of 1385 calories. Note that the majority of registry participants are women and more than half (55%) of these women reported that they were still trying to lose weight. This explains why the maintenance calories appear so low. Still, an average of 1400 calories is lower than most estimates for total energy expenditure for adult women (1600-2000 calories for sedentary activity level).
  • Lower fat intake.
    Less than 30% total calories from fat (e.g. for a 1400 calories intake, less than 47 grams of total fat).
  • Eat meals & snacks.
    An average of 4.87 meals consumed daily.
  • Eat Breakfast.
    78% eat breakfast.
  • Less dining out.
    Participants prepare most of their foods at home, eat less than 1 fast food meal per week, tend to eat the same foods/meals (less variety), and avoid splurging during weekends and holidays.

Self-Monitoring Habits

  • Weigh daily. 75% participants weigh themselves daily and use the information to help make decisions.
  • Track intake. 50% count calories and/or fat grams as of 2009. This figure is likely to be higher now given the number of tracking mobile apps available with smart phones.

Physical Activity

Exercise daily. 90% exercise about 1-hour daily. Less TV. 62% watch less than 10 hours of TV per week. As of 2009, Americans watch an average of 28 hours a week.

Weight Regain

The highest risk for weight regain is within the first 2-years of weight maintenance. In the registry, weight regain was found to be related to:

  • Less diet consistency
  • More fast food
  • More TV viewing
  • More breakfast skipping
  • More symptoms of depression
  • Binge eating

If those red flags look familiar to you, then take time to resolve those issues if you want to keep the weight off once you lose it. Sometimes we need professional help to move past a lifetime of hurdles related to eating and weight. Please consider getting the help and support that you need to achieve and maintain your weight goals.


Katherine Isacks, MPS, RD, CDE. Weight Maintenance at MyNetDiary.

J. Graham Thomas, MS and Rena R. Wing, Ph.D. Maintenance of Long-Term Weight Loss. Medicine & Health/Rhode Island. 2009; 92(2): 53-57. The data reported in this article is a few years behind the website, but it is still a great review of the data from the National Weight Control Registry.

Katherine Isacks, MPS, RD, CDE
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Disclaimer: The information provided here does not constitute medical advice. If you are seeking medical advice, please visit your healthcare provider or medical professional.


Weight Maintenance/Behavior

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This article can be found at https://www.mynetdiary.com/what-does-it-take-to-keep-the-weight-off-weight.html